Title: The Morning Gift
Author: Eva Ibbotson
Genre: Young Adult/Romance/Historical Fiction
First Line: "Vienna has always been a city of myths."
Summary: Ruth Berger thought she would get out of Vienna before the Nazis came, but now her family is safely in England and she is trapped in Austria. Things look bleak until she runs into an old colleague of her father's, the illustrious professor of paleontology, Quin Somerville, who agrees to help her escape. The two of them decide to perform a hasty marriage, one that will guarantee Ruth citizenship in Britain, but will be dissolved as soon as possible once she is safely in England. However, annulling the marriage becomes a complicated process. In an attempt to keep things moving quickly, Quin decides it would be best for he and Ruth not to see each other again... but Ruth ends up being enrolled in his classes at Thameside College in London. As Quin and Ruth spend more time together, it becomes increasingly obvious that they care for one another, perhaps more than they even know. But if the annulment doesn't go through, how will Ruth be able to marry her long-time fiance, Heini Radek?
Review: This is my third Eva Ibbotson book, and I always sort of forget how very brilliant her books are. Her style is very old-fashioned, full of Austenesque turns of phrase that are both delightfully complex and humorous, once the reader gets used to them. Ibbotson also excels at creating dramatic irony that keeps the plot moving forward. At the center of the story is the deliciously drawn-out romance, but her story always comes alive with a beautiful cast of secondary characters, some deeply endearing, others hilariously neurotic. The Morning Gift was no exception... Quin is probably my favorite male protagonist of her books, and I thoroughly enjoyed not only Ruth's journey, but those of her friends and family. Of course, sometimes Ibbotson's phrasing can get a little obtuse... She puts a lot of confidence in the reader to infer correctly, which could lead to brief moments of confusion. And her heroines can come across as too perfect, at least at first. But on the whole, her books are masterful romances, perfect for anyone who enjoys ill-fated love stories and historical fiction.
Favorite Random Line: "He wanted to strangle Heini slowly and with his bare hands."